"Because I was born." That's what 12-year-old Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) says when asked why he's suing his parents in Nadine Labaki's harrowing and propulsive Capernaum. Yet while Zain may wish he didn't exist, his story is a gift to any moviegoer who still believes cinema has the potential not only to placate and charm but to enlighten and overwhelm. Capernaum, which is set in Beirut, chronicles the collapse of Zain's life after his parents marry off his 11-year-old sister Sahar (Haita "Cedra" Izzam). Heartbroken and enraged, Zain abandons his family and moves in with Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw), an Ethiopian immigrant, and her son, a toddler named Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole). Their shared solace is short-lived, however, when Rahil vanishes and Zain and Yonas begin a brutal struggle to survive on their own. There are times when the film's fearsome images of suffering are too much to bear. Yet Labaki shows us that while Zain is a victim, he is also a marvel. Whether he is shoplifting tampons for Sahar or using a skateboard combined with a cooking pot to transport Yonas, his daring and inventiveness make Capernaum a rare movie that inspires even as it confronts the horrors its characters inflict on one another. R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Living Room.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Five years after The Lego Movie's breakneck whimsy subverted expectations and launched a thousand treatments starring non-sentient intellectual properties—The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie features among them—we've finally a proper sequel. But however vibrant the scattershot quips and hyper-referential, pop-cultural palette remain, this new iteration feels more like just another brick in the wall. Directed by Mike (Trolls) Mitchell with a screenplay by the original authors, we open on a devastated Bricksburg slowly rebuilding after the kid sister-led attack of free-form Duplo creatures: a dark timeline that fits returning characters Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman) and Batman (Will Arnett) rather more comfortably than cockeyed-optimist Emmet (Chris Pratt). When our hero tries to save his kidnapped friends from arranged marriage inside the Duplo-ruled Systar System, sheer momentum forgives weaker gags, but as animated high jinks dissolve once more to show the real kids constructing such elaborate fantasies, the benevolent dominion of Maya Rudolph's live-action mom mires proceedings in family-friendly schmaltz. Whether this latest meta-twist suggests an inherent betrayal of franchise principles probably depends on your rooting interest along the age-old parent-child divide, but what passes for narrative requires manufacturing an antagonist whose motivations never make sense and whose very existence disregards the absurd yet otherwise continuous rules defining Emmet's universe. PG. JAY HORTON. Bagdad, Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Lloyd, Pioneer Place, Scappoose, St. Johns Pub and Theater, St. Johns Twin Cinema & Pub, Tigard, Vancouver.
The most memorable part of Miss Bala is when "Los Ageless" by St. Vincent plays during a party scene. That rules. The rest of the film, sadly, does not. Miss Bala, which translates to "Miss Bullet," is Gloria (Gina Rodriguez), an aspiring fashionista whose ambition is held back by her own meekness. Abducted by a Mexican drug cartel during a night of clubbing, Gloria is forced to cooperate with the outlaws to save her best friend and her godson. If it sounds like you've seen this before, you have! It's basically the plot to every movie ever made about organized crime. But more specifically, Miss Bala is a remake of a 2011 Spanish-language film of the same name—the main difference is that the original protagonist is fueled by fame, while this reiteration is fueled by family. Director Catherine Hardwicke claims to have made Gloria more active than her predecessor, but it's difficult to see how exactly. She's supposed to be cunning, but almost nothing she does is actually impressive until the inevitable final showdown. Even that reeks of hollow "girl power." Cool! She shoots a gun! Anything else? Ultimately, Miss Bala is just another unnecessary remake for an English-speaking audience. However, its greatest sin is its squandering of Anthony Mackie, relegating him to only two scenes. Tragic. PG-13. MIA VICINO. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Fox Tower, Lloyd, Vancouver.